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Colleges begin to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Tennessee this past weekend is open and in effect.

Life at College

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person learning, and schools shut down indefinitely across the globe . Throughout the country and even worldwide, students were forced to learn virtually from their own homes and this made many things difficult. After six month of isolation, the 2020-2021 school year began. Schools tried to their best extent to give students some type of in person experience. While students in grades K-12 remain home for the most part, a majority of college students are at their university learning in-person, with only a few classes online. Nutley High School Alumni, Jenna Petracco, and Alyssa Mielnicki, give The Maroon & Gray an inside on their college experience so far. 


Jenna Petracco is a freshman at Florida Atlantic University and Alyssa Mielnicki is a freshman at the College of Charleston. Although Alyssa and Jenna were both unable to live in freshman dorms, which most students do their first year at school. They are both living in apartments off campus, but close to their schools.  Fortunately, they are both able to attend some classes in person, while only doing a few online.


The beginning of the year included a struggle with adjustment for both the students and the schools, but Jenna says that as the school year moved into the second semester, “more in person classes were available,” and Alyssa agreed. Alyssa also says that with her classes, “Half the class goes in one day and half the other. This allows for a larger majority of the students to get on campus at least once a week.” The schools techniques and adjustments are allowing them both to get some normalcy when it comes to learning and more.  


Following their ability to be in-person for some classes they also have freedom to other resources, despite the pandemic. “We’re allowed to attend sporting events, have people in dorm rooms, use the gym, and go into other facilities,” Jenna says.  During the past fall season the FAU football team continued on with practices and games.  Jenna was fortunate enough to attend a few of these games with her friends. “Attending these games made me feel a sense of normalcy,” Jenna explained. Now, in Charleston, Alyssa says, “ Although a lot has been shut down and made virtual, I was still able to rush a sorority, go out with friends, and use campus resources such as the library.” Both Alyssa and Jenna are allowed to participate in basic college activities, while their schools make sure they do it safely. 


Although their schools give them the freedom to live a semi-normal college life, they must follow some guidelines. In Charleston, masks are a big thing. Alyssa says, “ If you are seen without a mask while walking on campus, and sometimes the street you will get a fine.” In Florida, the rules are lighter though. Jenna says, “ There are COVID guidelines set, but they’re not as enforced. We wear masks when walking through our apartment complex and while on our campus,” Jenna explains. Masks are big everywhere and both schools the girls attend enforce the mask wearing policy. Besides the masks, not many other rules are instilled. 


Overall, Alyssa and Jenna are enjoying college despite the pandemic. When asked how they like going to school away, both had nothing but good things to say. Jenna says, “Overall, I am really enjoying school so far and am glad I closed the school I did.” As for that, if anyone is stuck with the thought of staying home or going away Alyssa goes into depth on that. She says, “I think going away to school is a great experience. It really teaches you how to learn and grow out on your own. It pushes you to branch out and make new friends from all over the place.” 


Despite the pandemic, Alyssa and Jenna are both allowed some normalcy as they embark on this new and exciting chapter in their lives, and it’s only the beginning.